Right on track

  • 6 captive-reared vultures released
  • 17 tagged white-rumped vultures
  • 11 wild vultures crossing borders
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Captive vultures released

Nepal’s first-ever captive-reared vultures have been released into the wild, with satellite tags tracking their every move.

At the end of 2017, the first six captive-reared vultures were released in Nepal as part of the Nepal Action Plan. This is the first-ever release of any Critically Endangered Asian vulture species, and their satellite tags suggest they’re doing well. 

Chris Bowden, Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) Programme Manager, says: “The 17 tagged white-rumped vultures are providing us with valuable data, helping us to monitor the environment more closely. We’ve discovered new breeding colonies and important foraging sites, helping us identify areas in India that Nepal’s vultures visit .” 

While the six captive-reared birds have so far moved little more than 2km from their safe release site, the 11 wild vultures caught and tagged in the same area are venturing much further afield; almost all of them crossing the border into India. Chris adds: “This shows why conservation actions need to happen across borders.”

Vulture Safe Zone

The Nepal Vulture Action Plan is an ambitious project developed by a number of organisations. These include Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), SAVE, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Nepal Government, along with input from the RSPB and bird of prey expert Jemima Parry-Jones. The project aims to evaluate Nepal’s vulture conservation breeding and release programme and also the safety of Nepal’s Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ), set to be the first region declared free from diclofenac and other drugs that are toxic to vultures. 

The Nepal breeding programme is set to have its second good year for producing white-rumped vulture fledglings. “The captive vultures are doing well,” Chris reports. “But we’re still working to prevent equally dangerous human diclofenac formulations and other unsafe or untested veterinary drugs from being used in its place.” 

Follow the progress of the released vultures at save-vultures.org.

Wild adult white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) in flight.Pinjore, Haryana, India

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